Ulcers are caused by bacterial infection in the stomach. The particular bacterium responsible for this infection is called Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori). Ulcers can develop on any part of the digestive tract lining but are most common in the duodenum. Ulcers that develop in the duodenum are referred to as duodenal ulcers. Once may also develop gastric ulcers, those that develop in the stomach or esophageal ulcers in the esophagus.
Excessive production of stomach acid and other fluids can also contribute to the development of ulcers. Ulcers can also develop where the lining of the digestive tract is damaged. Long term use of anti-inflammatory drugs and other specific medicines can also lead to ulcers.
Common signs and symptoms of ulcers are feeling full fast even when you havenâ€™t eaten much, feeling heavy or bloated, experiencing a dull or burning pain in the stomach, stomach pain that gets unbearable at night, vomiting and unexpected weight loss. Some signs are specific to particular types of ulcer. Feeling sick after you eat or drink, for instance, is a sign of gastric ulcers. If you feel better after eating and worse after an hour or two, itâ€™s a sign of duodenal ulcers.
In cases of mild ulcers, one feels better within a week of treatment. If there is no improvement, your doctor will run an endoscopy to determine the condition of your digestive tract. Breath, blood and biopsy tests can also be used to check for presence of H. pylori.
Ulcers are treated by eliminating H. pylori. This can be done using different medicines. The primary combination is triple therapy, which is a combination of antibiotics and bismuth subsalicylate. Proton pump inhibitors and H2 blockers can also be given to minimize the amount of acid produced in the body. Antacids are good at neutralizing stomach acids.
You can minimize chances of developing ulcers by eating well-balanced meals regularly and avoiding non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, caffeine, alcohol and smoking.